Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bill of Rights for Condo Living - part 3

By Stew Richland

How the unit owners may view their Board of Directors or how the Board views their unit owners.

We know that Association rules regarding participation in the association elections process, levying of fines, and procedures for resolving disputes through an objective third party can have a profound impact on the quality and enjoyment of community life. Some disagreements and disputes can be settled easily, some can escalate into to a point where home ownership can be endangered. Foreclosure can be devastating and the consequences of disputes can be particularly severe for older homeowners, whose homes typically represent their single largest asset. 

One website offered the following guidelines for a homeowners bill of rights.

1.Right to Security against Foreclosure
An association shall not foreclose against a homeowner except for significant unpaid assessments, and any such foreclosure shall require judicial review to ensure fairness.

2.The Right to Resolve Disputes without Litigation
Homeowners and associations will have available alternative dispute resolution (ADR), although both parties preserve the right to litigate.

3.The Right to Fairness in Litigation
Where there is litigation between an association and a homeowner, and the homeowner prevails, the association shall pay attorney fees to a reasonable level.

4. The Right to Be Told of All Rules and Charges
Homeowners shall be told—before buying—of the association’s broad powers, and the association may not exercise any power not clearly disclosed to the homeowner if the power unreasonably interferes with homeownership.

5. The Right to Stability in Rules and Charges
Homeowners shall have rights to vote to create, amend, or terminate deed restrictions and other important documents. Where an association’s directors have the power to change operating rules, the homeowners shall have notice and an opportunity, by majority vote, to override new rules and charges.

6. The Right to Individual Autonomy
Homeowners shall not surrender any essential rights of individual autonomy because they live in a common-interest community. Homeowners shall have the right to peaceful advocacy during elections and other votes as well as a use of common areas.

7. The Right to Oversight of Associations and Directors
Homeowners shall have reasonable access to records and meetings, as well as specified abilities to call special meetings, to obtain oversight of elections and other votes, and to recall directors.

8. The Right to Vote and Run for Office
Homeowners shall have well-defined voting rights, including secret ballots, and no director shall have a conflict of interest.

9. The Right to Reasonable Associations and Directors
Associations, their directors, and other agents, shall act reasonably in exercising their power over homeowners.

10. The Right to an Ombudsperson for Homeowners
Homeowners shall have a fair interpretation of their rights through the state Office of Ombudsperson for Homeowners. The ombudsperson will enable state oversight where needed and increases available information for all concerned.

Does your association rules include the above? Something to consider

Part 4 to follow shortly

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